Expert Voice

Making the most of Mobility Partnerships

15 December 2016

*European Union

Since 2009, Mobility Partnerships between the EU and partner countries have not only brought concrete benefits to people but also enabled result-driven cooperation and dialogue between states. The Mobility Partnership Facility (MPF) is a programme that started in 2016 aimed at supporting the implementation of Mobility Partnerships (MPs). This article provides, in a nutshell, practical examples for MPs and summarizes the actions available to further realize the full potential of this framework.

By Oleg Chirita

Since April 2014, Moldovan citizens travel to the European Union without visas. Back in 2009, Poland put in place streamlined procedures to facilitate temporary labour migration for citizens of the Eastern Partnership countries. In Armenia, seven Migration Resource Centres have been set-up. In 2013, the Government of Georgia adopted the Migration Strategy. Various members of the Cabo Verdean diaspora living in the EU shared their professional skills with their peers from different organisations back in the country. Jordan is currently designing tools to boost communication with its expatriates. Border management in Tunisia is continuously enhanced, while Morocco undertakes concrete steps to strengthen its asylum system.

These are just a few of the numerous examples covering various countries, topics, intervention levels and target groups that were made possible thanks to Mobility Partnerships (MPs).

Mobility Partnership: a flexible framework for enhanced, tailor-made cooperation 

The Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) is the overarching framework of the EU external migration policy. It defines how the EU conducts its dialogue and cooperation with partner countries in the areas of legal migration, irregular migration, migration and development and international protection. 

The GAMM’s most elaborated and advanced bilateral cooperation frameworks are MPs, whose signatories include the EU, the partner country and EU Member States. The first MPs were signed with Moldova and Cabo Verde in 2008, followed by Georgia (2009), Armenia (2011), Morocco and Azerbaijan (2013), Tunisia and Jordan (2014) and Belarus (2016). 

Mobility Partnership: success and impact

Given their multi-faceted interventions, MPs are beneficial to all signatories. Under their umbrella, numerous projects have been taking place with the aim to help partner countries make migration better, to offer migrants and their families various opportunities and to forge stronger partnerships at different levels.

An MP brings diverse added value, benefits and achievements in partner countries, such as: visa progress in order to create more people-to-people contacts; strengthened institutional capacities; consolidated migration management and policies; updated legislation; enhanced cooperation at national level and between EU and partner countries; better and tailored services for migrants and citizens; greater communication between diasporas and their countries, just to name a few.

Mobility Partnership's essence in three key words 

In July 2016, the Mobility Partnership Facility organised a workshop in Chisinau on the Eastern Neighbourhood Countries’ experience in implementing MPs. An online survey was disseminated among the participants representing the partner countries, the European Commission, EU Member States and international organisations with the aim to get their views on the relevance and success factors of the MPs implementation. The responses showed that the three most deployed key words capturing the essence of the MPs were: partners, clarity and cooperation. They chiefly refer to the prioritisation of objectives, networks among partners, improved dialogue, achieving joint results and cooperation opportunities.

Boosting the MP potential: concrete actions, next steps and the role of ICMPD 

The results attained until now should be further transformed into new actions by means of capitalisation on, absorption and replication of best practices and adjustment of objectives to emerging priorities and realities. This needs to be accompanied by more coordination, ownership, evaluation and monitoring of results, balance among thematic priorities, increased visibility of actions and their impact, and financial support to turn objectives into actions.

To bring these steps to fruition, the European Commission mandated ICMPD to implement a number of projects contributing to the operationalisation of MPs in Georgia, Tunisia, Armenia, Jordan and Azerbaijan.

The Mobility Partnership Facility (MPF): bringing increased added value and creating more favourable partnership venues 

The MPF was launched in January 2016 to support the preparation and implementation of MPs and common agendas on migration and mobility through targeted assistance. The programme is funded by the European Commission, Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs ( DG HOME) and implemented by ICMPD.

A call for proposals with an open deadline, targeting the EU Member States’ public bodies, was launched in April 2016. Under this call, member states are invited to submit project ideas that can be carried out in partner countries, should they be successfully evaluated.

The first grant contract was signed with the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFFI) on 18 November 2016 and will implement the action "Reintegration policies for returning Armenian migrants".


Oleg Chirita is Programme Manager at ICMPD. 

The views expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of ICMPD.